The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane (book 2) by Joseph Delaney


I’m not sure what it is about this book that makes it so appealing. It’s fairly simple, not particularly surprising, not even especially unique. And yet, there is something oddly compelling about this series.

In book two, the Spook and Tom get called back to Priestown for the Spook’s estranged brother’s funeral. There are two particularly big problems with this: 1) there is a spirit called the Bane that is growing in strength and controls the town and nearly killed the spook in the past, and 2) there is a man called the Quisitor who likes to burn people who worship the devil and he considers the Spook to be one such person. To make matters worse, Alice shows up and you can never know how things will turn up when Alice is around.

At the opening of the book, I remember thinking, “well, this is an okay series but I don’t know that I will buy the next book” but for some reason, as I got further in, I found myself more interested (and ultimately I did go out and buy the third book). Maybe Delaney is simply slow at opening his novels or maybe I was just looking for series to stop reading because I have so many other books to read at this point, but either way, the book wound up being compelling.

There is a lost of strange history; how Tom’s parents met and the Spook’s past both have odd stories. In some ways it forms a strange mythology and it’s clear that there’s more coming. I’ve always been a fan of a bigger mythology, so here’s to hoping it pans out well.

The most compelling aspect of this book remains the dynamic between Alice and Tom. It is hard to tell whether the Spook thinks Alice is dangerous because she’s a girl or because she’s a witch, but you would think that considering how he spends a life being misunderstood, he would learn not to make assumptions and judge people so quickly without getting to know them. Whatever his issues, Alice remains the most complex character, calling into question what it means to be good and evil and if doing the “wrong thing” for the “right reason” makes you good or evil. And is it even wrong if it is a temporary solution?

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